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David Walsh @DavidAstinWalsh
, 16 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
My research today has taken me to a 1978 Richard Posner article entitled "Economics of the Baby Shortage" where he argues that unwanted babies ought to be bought and sold on the open market.
No, really. He says this.
He also suggests that one of the objections that anti-baby-free-market types haves is that it would expose the fact that white babies would be more highly valued on the baby free market than minority babies.
Also, we shouldn't worry that free market babies will lead to eugenics! Sure, some eugenics will probably occur, but it'll be small-scale.
Posner also blames adoption agencies for acting as rent-seekers who are trying to maintain their monopoly on the baby market.
Of course, the problem -- in 1978, anyway -- to free market babies is that it's... difficult to assemble a pro-"sell children" political coalition.
I'm not naive -- obviously adoptions today function in broad strokes similar to the schema that Posner is arguing for here, which is in and of itself incredibly depressing.
(And that's not even getting into the whole question of human trafficking, which Posner obviously does not address in the article but which cannot be disentangled from the foster care/adoption/"baby market" system.)
But I would wager even today, "Let's buy and sell children on the open market!" would be a difficult political argument to make as baldly as Posner did in 1978.

And remember, Posner wrote this article while a professor at the University of Chicago Law School...
...and only six years before he was appointed to a federal circuit court by Ronald Reagan.
Posner is, incidentally, the most-cited American legal scholar of the twentieth century.
To repeat, the most-cited American legal scholar of the twentieth century argued in a 1978 article that people should be allowed to buy and sell infant children on the open market.
I should add that Posner used a law and economics approach -- meaning fancy equations indecipherable to laymen -- to "prove" that the market approach is the best and most efficient.
That's right -- Posner uses math to prove that it's a good idea to buy and sell children openly in a free-market system!
I'm not shocked by much anymore -- living under the Trump administration and writing about the far right will do that to you -- but I'm profoundly shocked both by the moral depravity of this argument and the subsequent eminence of Posner in American law.
Related: Remember earlier this year when Richard Posner's son Eric -- also a law professor at the University of Chicago (funny that!) -- suggested reintroducing indentured servitude in an essay at POLITICO using similar logic as his dad? politico.com/magazine/story…
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